‘Fort Europe’ refers to the policies that currently try to keep immigrants outside of Europe. In fact the original Fort of Europe: Dura Europos is for more than 2300 years situated at the borders of the Syrian Euphrates. Ross Burns archeologist: ‘This Hellenistic fort was a multilingual and -multicultural town by nature of its origins. Remains of Greek, Parthian and Roman temples, churches, mosks and synagoges have been excavated. Its location on the frontier between east and west and its trading function.’
The European Union was only established 2238 years later, just after WOII to ‘resolve tensions, conflicts and contradictions. Based on economic integration, a free market, food security and values of democratic governance and respect for human rights,’ as George Joffé professor Geography suggests in the WRR report: Which policy Europe should pursue in the Middle East?
After the events of September 11th, ‘Fort Europe’ was the response to the threat of global terrorists with a short term focus on security conflicting with the earlier stated values of democratization and human rights. The consequences for neighbouring countries #ME according to Joffé: ‘All questions of pressure against regimes had been abandoned, for sake of dealing with what the EU perceived to be a greater threat.’
Joffé proposes six measures for a more sophisticated approach. 1.Reconsider EU basic assumptions and values. 2.Evaluate balance between securitization policies within and outside Europe. 3. Restate values of democratization and respect for human rights in relation to moderate Islamic movements. 4. How to relate to (islamic) communities inside Europe. 5. Distinction between political objectives of such movements and their ideologies. Last but not least 6. Reconsider Transatlantic relationship.
Also according the businessleaders the West misses opportunities in the Middle East. Arif Naqvi banker: ‘As the Middle East connects China, India and Africa, will Europe stay an island of exellence in an ocean of turbulence’?
Discussion about European values and re-orientation seem imminent and pragmatic action and support based on mutual respect towards neighbouring states #ME is inevitable. After all it is not just a coincidence that the first Fort of Europe lies in Syria.